chapter  11
19 Pages

Epilogue

The King ordered that nothing should be omitted which might in any way do honour to his dead friend, and when the embalmed body of Buckingham left Portsmouth, after a coroner’s inquest, it was borne on the shoulders of the colonels of the army and escorted by all the lords who were in the town. As the cortege made its slow way to the point where a convoy of coaches was waiting to carry it to London, the town shot off its ordnance in salute and was followed by all the ships of the King’s fleet, one after another. ‘I never heard a braver peal of ordnance in my life,’ declared one observer, ‘or greater.’ The coaches reached the outskirts of London late on 30 August, and the heralds, the chief officers of the Court and many of the nobility were waiting to escort the body, by torchlight, to Wallingford House. Among them was Laud, who, as he set out, was handed a letter which the Duke had written to him shortly before his death. Buckingham’s corpse lay in state at Wallingford House for more than two weeks, while preparations were made for the funeral. The King had ordered that no expense should be spared and that a magnificent memorial should be erected to this greatest of his servants. But Weston, the Lord Treasurer, was said to have reminded Charles that the world would take notice if he built a rich sepulchre for the Duke before he had provided a suitable monument for his father, James I. And Buckingham’s executors, appalled by the evidence of his heavy indebtedness, suggested that the money spared from his funeral would be better applied to the payment of his creditors.1